Book Review ~ Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Katherine Reay
Contemporary Fiction

About the book:

Samantha Moore has always hidden behind the words of others—namely, her favorite characters in literature. Now, she will learn to write her own story—by giving that story to a complete stranger.

Sam is, to say the least, bookish. An English major of the highest order, her diet has always been Austen, Dickens, and Shakespeare. The problem is, both her prose and conversation tend to be more Elizabeth Bennet than Samantha Moore.

But life for the twenty-three-year-old orphan is about to get stranger than fiction. An anonymous, Dickensian benefactor (calling himself Mr. Knightley) offers to put Sam through Northwestern University’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism. There is only one catch: Sam must write frequent letters to the mysterious donor, detailing her progress.

As Sam’s dark memory mingles with that of eligible novelist Alex Powell, her letters to Mr. Knightley become increasingly confessional. While Alex draws Sam into a world of warmth and literature that feels like it’s straight out of a book, old secrets are drawn to light. And as Sam learns to love and trust Alex and herself, she learns once again how quickly trust can be broken.

Reminding us all that our own true character is not meant to be hidden, Reay’s debut novel follows one young woman’s journey as she sheds her protective persona and embraces the person she was meant to become.

My thoughts:

I am a big Jane Austen fan so when I saw the title of this book I immediately snatched it up. Imagine my surprise when I started reading and realized this was not a Jane Austen knock-off. Was I disappointed? Not in the least! In fact I think I have just added a book to my top ten list for the year.

This is Katherine Reay's debut novel but it does not read like one. The depth of emotion that this story evokes is overwhelming at times. Through the character of Samantha Moore we are taken into the world of the foster care system. Some of it good and nurturing but a lot of it broken and damaging. 

A simple classification of this tale would be to characterize it as a love story. As with most love stories it is complex. It involves the love of a man for a woman but it also involves adults that love a child even when that child is an adult herself.

If you enjoy deeply emotional and beautifully written literature I can almost guarantee that you will love this piece of work. Let me leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

"The day we forget the horror, Sam, we will repeat it. Never forget your past. It will make you less human, less than human."
"I've heard all sorts of things about a kiss (melting, fireworks, music), but no one ever told me it's a conversation: asking, accepting, deciding, inviting, giving . . . questions posed and answered."

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this lovely and thoughtful review. You quoted two of my favorite lines from the book too! Very fun! Have a wonderful day and, again, thanks!


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